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Vote buying budget lets down First Nations peoples yet again

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 3 Apr 2019

Given the current crisis of First Nations suicide, children in out of home care and incarceration, the Greens say that the budget should have included at the bare minimum the reinstatement of the over $500 million that was cut from First Nations programs through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

“If we are actually serious about addressing these issues and closing the gap, First Nations issues and organisations would have been given priority, long term funding support and certainty,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on First Nations issues said.

“A commitment to self-determination must be at the heart of closing the gap, and that approach is sadly lacking in this budget.

“I’m deeply concerned about funding for Aboriginal Legal Services.

“With the imprisonment rates of First Nations peoples at record levels there was no additional funding for National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services

“We are unsure of the funding situation for Family Violence Prevention Legal Services.

“There should have been immediate action on the findings of the Government’s Independent Review into the Indigenous Legal Assistance Programme ( ILAP ) and an overturn of the impending $10 million in cuts from next year.

“Instead, Aboriginal legal services will now be funded through a single mechanism which is what they didn’t want and were afraid might happen! This could result in further cuts because they’ll be competing with non-indigenous legal services. What about listening to the communities!?

“The sporadic, haphazard funding approach to mental health services will not address the crisis of suicide in First Nations communities. There needs to be an implementation plan and funding for the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples' Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017–2023.

“We are short on funds to fund front line essential services but unlimited millions to spend on the cashless debit card.

“The Government has invested $129 million in the failed measure of income management and let’s be clear income management that predominantly impacts on First Nations peoples, is discriminatory, racist and causes harm and distress.

“The Government said in the budget speech that the CDC has halved the frequency of alcohol consumption, gambling and drug use, even though the ANAO said that it is difficult to conclude whether there has been a reduction in social harm. What can you call this apart from blatantly untrue?

“Income management is a failed measure. We need a budget that invests in people, not punishes them. What an outrageous waste.

“The children of the NT who have been abused in detention were failed and are still being failed because of the inability of the NT and Federal Governments to fully fund and implement the Commission’s recommendations. Where is the commitment to funding the recommendations of the Royal Commission? Where is the commitment to addressing the crisis of youth justice in the NT and elsewhere. Children are still living in similar conditions that they were before the Royal Commission.

“I am pleased to see the Government backtrack on their complete opposition to a Voice to Parliament. A Voice and referendum process has to be genuinely consistent with what First Nations peoples want.

"Until programs are properly funded any commitment to closing the gap will not succeed.”


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Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180









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